Race to save 90 beached whales in New Zealand

Up to 300 whales were already dead when the mass stranding was discovered

Race to save 90 beached whales in New Zealand

Stranded pilot whales at Farewell Spit. Image: Deb Price / NZ Department of Conservation

Efforts are underway to save around 90 whales stranded on a New Zealand beach.

An estimated 300 whales have already died at Farewell Spit, on the South Island, in one of the worst such cases in the country.

Hundreds of locals and conservation department staff have formed a human chain to refloat the whales after they beached themselves.

The New Zealand Department of Conservation said: "A refloat of over 100 whales took place on the high tide around 10.30 am Friday morning. The refloat has been partially successful with around 50 whales out swimming in the bay.

"The remaining 80 to 90 have re-stranded on the beach. The beached whales will be kept comfortable with the help of volunteers until dark."

The department added that it does not work with stranded whales in darkness for safety reasons.

Efforts to save the remaining beached whales will continue on Saturday morning local time.